RE: This kills me!
Thank you, Slick, chezkatie, Tricky, for understanding my point of view. I was beginning to think I'd lost my mind. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a prima donna. I got my start cooking in bars, and worked my way up to some fairly exalted positions, but I don't think I ever forgot where I came from.
I've been wondering why I reacted so strongly to kareno, apart from the fact that she was both wrong and rude. Took me a while.
My first real cooking job was at The River Cafe in Brooklyn. After a year or so in garde-manger and general utility player, I was promoted to the day fish station. I wouldn't have dared call myself a poissonier. The chef, a tough Belgian who'd worked in a number of three-star restaurants in Paris, pretty much left me to my own devices, so long as the mise-en-place was correct and the fish was properly cooked. So I got a copy of Saulnier - Le Repertoire de la Cuisine - and started cooking my way through the fish section for my daily specials. Heaven only knows what I thought I was doing; I surely didn't know, for example, that the cream used in those recipes to tighten a sauce was twice as thick as American, and I had to re-do a lot of watery sauces.
Anyway, one day a waiter comes in and says that a guest of the owner, with whom he hoped to do business, was sitting in the dining room. Turned out to be Mr. Marriott himself. He ordered the fish special, which I can only remember being striped bass. Maybe Duglere, as that's early in the alphabet.
So I found the most beautiful piece of bass in my drawer, put it in to poach, checked my sauce, made sure the rice was hot and fluffy, cooked some fresh haricots and had my garnish ready. At the appointed time I lifted the perfectly-cooked bass from its nage, dried it off, and plated it. I had the waiter standing by. The chef came by and checked, and gave me a quick smile.
The table was served, and I stopped shaking. The owner called the chef out to meet Mr. Marriott. A few minutes later he came back, with a wicked grin on his face. "Ah, mon petit, M. Marriott says the bass is delicious. He loves it. Of course, the first thing he did was cover it in ketchup, like a hamburger."
I was distraught, furious, embarrassed and generally miserable. The chef took me out after service and got me drunk, and that was the end of that.
So now you know why I wouldn't have ketchup in my restaurant.
Thanks for listening,